A few years ago, sick and tired of having to wear glasses to correct a weak right eye, I opted for Laser Eye surgery. Being frankly terrified, I went for a leading brand - Ultralase - and had the surgery done in Edinburgh.
A friend recently asked how the whole thing went, so I thought it best I document it all here.
Okay. So. Firstly. It costs a fortune. I was around £3,500 for a single corrective operation on a single eye. I managed to snag a zero-percent deal over three years, so it wasn't as financially painful as a I first thought.
Now. Perception is that you wander in, lie down, and 10 minutes later, you're fixed. Oh. No.
Firstly, they'll want to measure your eye's physical characteristics and operation. So we're talking two or three separate sessions of tests similar to that of a high-end optician. Lots of darkened room murmuring whilst things are shone or blown into your eyes. And since this place was 120 miles south of my house, involved 4-6 hours of travel each time.
On the day of the operation itself, I was laid on a table, a suction cup applied around the outside of the eye, local applied and the surface of the cornea cut (from the bottom) so that it could be peeled up. You are of course fully awake at the time, and able to see bits and pieces of this. Then a large machine is wheeled over your eye, and 30-50 seconds of lights/lasers shone into it.
Now, this is the craziest thing i've ever done. The entire human survival mechanism is geared around protecting important parts of you - and your eyes rate highly on this. I had to lie on my arms to prevent me punching the poor surgeon.
Then came 2-3 days of sore, dry eyes, eye patches, drops at 4 hourly intervals, and of course the inevitable 3-6 check-ups.
Whilst I was being done, I saw a poor lady who had both eyes done at the same time, and therefore couldnt see for a few days. I applaud her resolve, but have to ask - can anyone organise their life sufficiently well to have a week off everything?
After a couple of days, sight returned to the eye, and we found that part of my eye had developed little dots of scar tissue around the laser cuts. This is not uncommon - the chap mentioned around 5% of folks get this condition. However, it does push the lens out of shape.. And so I couldnt actually use my newly fixed right eye.
After many more consultations, they agreed to re-operate - but only after a significant amount of time had passed so that the eye could heal. And so six months of only seeing out of one eye.
Finally the day of the re-operation came, and I my eye was re-treaded yet again. And after 3-4 consultations, considered a success.
The surgery is guaranteed for life - so I could theoretically have it done again if I chose.
Of course, time passes, and a couple of years later, I've now hit my mid-forties, when all humans traditionally lose their eyesight. The eye changes shape, and we all become long sighted - that is, we have to hold things farther away in order to see them. When you 'run out of arm' reading the paper - well, its time to wear glasses again.
So here am I, four years on, wearing glasses again and wondering why I put myself through all that bother.
Dont get me wrong - Ultralase were very good at every step of the way, and I'd recommend them. But I'd ask the question - have I passed the mid-forties mark where my eyes have changed, and became stable enough to warrant laser treatment again?